Recent studies have shown the coronavirus pandemic, the ensuing unemployment crisis and now weeks of police brutality protests after the death of George Floyd are weighing heavily on African Americans.
Those impacted include area resident Houston Brown.
“That could be me getting stopped. That could be my brother. It could be my uncles, my cousins, so it definitely tests the emotion deep down inside of me,” he said.
Brown had already been worried about money. The coronavirus pandemic forced him to shut down his chiropractic practice, Mind & Body Chiropractic in Aurora, for several weeks until a PPP loan came through to help him continue paying his employees.
After a kidney transplant last year, Brown was considered high risk and his transplant team didn’t want him to work and risk contracting the virus.
“It was really stressful,” Brown said.
Brown has been reaching out to his cousin, Dr. Tiffany Sanders, a licensed clinical psychologist.
“The heightened anxiety, depression, fear, you know, the tightness of knots in the stomach -- all my clients are sort of complaining about those same symptoms of anxiety,” she said.
A recent survey by the Census Bureau found anxiety and depression in African Americans jumped from 36 to 41 percent in the week after George Floyd’s death, with African Americans marking a higher percentage feeling stressed than any other racial group.
As the protests and the pandemic continue, Sanders has a simple message.
“Absolutely focus on the things you can control,” Sanders said.
If the stress becomes too much, seek help from a professional. Experts recommend you can contact your insurance company to find approved counselors in your network.
Another option is the text line, Call4Calm. To help with stress management during the pandemic, the Illinois Department of Human Services launched the free service in April. Residents seeking help from the service can simply text TALK to 552020 for English or HABLAR for Spanish to get connected to a mental health professional.
People seeking assistance will remain anonymous and the service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.